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Aug 20, 2009 10:10 PM

Family with Toddlers seeking foodie neighborhood in Montreal

We are a couple from Toronto with 2 kids aged 4 and 1 traveling to Montreal for a week in early September. Looking for a neighborhood to stay with good foodie recommendations on bakeries and not-so-stuck-up sit-down meals. There are lots of posh neighborhoods but we would prefer walkable distances to the restaurants, or to a Metro station that is stroller friendly.

Currently we are looking at either downtown (Bell/Eaton Centre) or Plateau-Mont-Royal. I would also prefer a park closeby where kids can be unleashed, so any information you can let me know would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. I think you will find the Plateau a lot more interesting with your kids and for culinary reasons. While the downtown has good restaurants to offer, I would personally prefer strolling down on the Plateau with toddlers. The Monkland Village area is also quite nice, but the Plateau will have more to offer.

    1. I think you would love the Outremont, near Bernard/Van Horne close to Mile-End area. Then you can go to Mamie Clafoutis on Van Horn for pastry and bread, to Ian Perreault prêt à manger on Bernard for foodie take-out, Geneviève Grandbois on Saint-Viateur for chocolate (and get bagels at Saint-Viateur bagels on the way), then you can do brunch at Sparrow on Saint-Laurent or have the best coffee at In Gamba on Park. And pick up cup cakes at Cocoa Locale lower on Park... And the kids will love the parks in Outremont. It's a nice residential area with tons of beautiful old trees. And Mile-End, next to it, has a bit on an artsy edge. Best mix.

      14 Replies
      1. It won't be more than that, even with strollers, and you can get down to the heart of the Plateau in about the same time. The bus WEST from métro Rosemont is the 161 Van Horne, which you might want to take to Outremont rather than the dull walk on an overpass. Unfortunately there aren't a lot of great sit-down places in the IMMEDIATE vicinity of métro Rosemont - this will no doubt change in a couple of years, as there is an interesting eco-friendly developments of housing co-operatives and affordable condos right next to it, along with a swimming pool, library and park, and this is already breathing a bit of life into the moribond stretch of St-Hubert between Rosemont and Bellechasse, the southern tip of the so-called "Plaza St-Hubert". Hope your strollers have capacity for shopping to return from the JTM and other foodie destinations (agree that Mamie Clafoutis is a lovely boulangerie).

        It should be no problem for two parents to take two children downtown in the métro - the Old Port is a nice destination for families.

        I really like the Salvadorean places on St-Zotique, one street north of Beaubien, as very pleasant family-friendly restaurants. La Carreta and El Amigo. (You can search this board for more about them). With kidlets, you might like taking the 31 bus on St-Denis a few streets north. It only comes every half-hour but the timetables are usually accurate and you can find them posted at That will also get you back from Jean-Talon if you don't feel like walking, or going down into the métro for two stops.

        Families really should go up on the mountain or to another large park for a scenic picnic. This might entail shopping for Portuguese roast or grilled chicken on St-Laurent or Rachel. There is a Portuguese grilled chicken restaurant very close to where you are staying though I have never tried it: Restaurant Casa Alentejo, 5938 rue St-Hubert (514) 272.9797. It is between Rosemont and rue de Bellechasse (one street north). Perhaps someone else has tried it?

        1. re: lagatta

          I got some take away from Alentejo a few years ago when i still lived in the neighbourhood. It was very good. Good chicken, good fries. Nothing to complain about.

          1. re: lagatta

            A family-friendly restaurant very close to where you are staying is the Vietnamese byow Le Mangoustan, on St-Hubert between Rosemont and Bellechasse. We used to really enjoy going there but haven't been in a few years. There have been some reports on this board that it may have gone downhill somewhat: any recent opinions? 5935 Rue St-Hubert (514) 495-9031

            Montreal Plus reviews are more blurbs than objective accounts, but here it is:

            Do note that they have children's menus, which might be a plus with such small children, though they could also just have some of your dishes if you order carefully.

            St-Denis south of Beaubien (and north of the viaduct between Rosemont/Petite-Patrie and the Plateau) is rather a culinary wasteland and wasteland in general until you get almost up to Beaubien, where there is another, very good, Vietnamese restaurant on the west side of St-Denis, restaurant Pho Tay Ho. 6414, rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, QC, H2S 2R7 514-273-5627

            1. re: lagatta

              Friends of mine stayed with their toddler right near Pho Tay Ho recently and they loved the proximity to Jean-Talon (perfect for foodies), the parks in the neighbourhood and they ate at Pho Tay Ho a few times, delicious.

              Our family enjoys the Plateau so I definitely recommend this area for food and parks too, particularly near Parc Lafontaine.

              1. re: Plateaumaman

                True, but staying right at métro Rosemont they are closer to Parc Laurier - St-Grégoire is a short walk south (through the viaduct and past a technical school) and then east to the northern side of Parc Laurier. St-Grégoire used to be rather nasty along there but now it is all new blocs of condos, so it is inhabited and a safe and more pleasant walk.

                Pho Tay Ho is definitely delicious and family-friendly. Plateaumaman, perhaps you have some other ideas for parents of small children?

          2. re: mcLo

            Outremont certainly is a safe and attractive place for families but for a family coming from Toronto they should be aware it is very French so if they want more of an Englishspeaking ambience they might want to consider other neighbourhoods. There is a restaurant on VanHorne that has a enclosed play area in front so parents can enjoy meal while children have playtime--I will look for name and post.

            1. re: wilmagrace

              From some of the comments I am a bit worried about my choice of location. It looks on the map it is not too far from everything but would still require a good 20 minutes to get to anything. Is Old Port better? How are the restaurants/bakeries there?

              Wilmagrace is right in assuming we are not fluent in French thus some anglo component would be helpful. But we can read French menu no problem, which is more than what you can say for most of the people from Toronto!

              1. re: Royaljelly

                personally I would not stay in Old Port if your kids are young (it is easy to get to by metro or direct bus from downtown, short taxi ride if you want to visit) just because it is a neighbourhood of cement and traffic from tourists, restaurant/bar patrons or montrealers out for a walk along the waterfront make it very congested and drivers not always attentive to their driving. Most restaurants unless highend are tourist traps in Old Montreal and poor quality/value for price. Years ago when my niece and nephew came they used to stay at the downtown delta on president kennedy as they have indoor and outdoor pool and garden terrace which gives some space for children to run around, it is right downtown but of course no park right next door, although mcgill university grounds are nearby so lots of grass accessible. You are very close to subway entrance giving you whole city access. I have not visited hotel recently, i know they have specials as do most hotels now but you could check it out on tripadvisor. There is grocery store (lots of take out food), pharmacy etc a couple blocks away in complexe desjardins and they have a large open area in middle with shooting fountain that delights kids. Since you have a car you can drive to the Mountain (beaver lake area) for a picnic and at the pastry shops nearby like patisserie belge you can get some pate, cheeses, baguette, prepared salads for your outing. Sometimes it is less of a hassle being able to be central and easily able to return to your lodgings for rests, supplies...there are also several apt. hotels near the delta if you want your own kitchen area and they are oriented for shortstays for tourists, business persons. I agree Outremont is lovely and great for families, I raised my children there but I dont think I would choose it as a tourist wanting to experience Montreal on a shortterm basis.

                1. re: Royaljelly

                  The Old Port is very festive and there is a lot of space for little ones to run around there. Olive et Gourmando is in that area. And it is easy to wander over to Chinatown for dimsum at Maison Kam Fung or dumplings at the Noodle Factory from there. Those are all very child-friendly places and different enough from Toronto's Chinatown, particularly La Gauchetiere which is a pedestrian street. We lived in Outremont when my kids were very small and that is okay too but as some others mentioned here, more residential. There are definitely some nice foodie stops along St-Viateur .. bagels, perogies, African food. But now matter where you land in the city you'll be able to find interesting neighbourhood places, especially if you search this board a bit.

                  Here on the Plateau you can easily pick up everything you need for a nice picnic from Premiere Moisson and then head to Parc Lafontaine where they have two nice playgrounds, wading pools (which might not be open in September). I had a friend visiting from Toronto yesterday and she dashed out to the dep (corner store) to pick up a fresh baguette and a couple of croissants for breakfast, so we don't even need to be right near a bakery nowadays.

                  There's a bistro on St-Denis that was called Raviolution, might have reverted back to the name Cote Soleil now, that offers babysitting on their patio Wednesday and Thursday nights, btw. Then you can dash around and eat poutine at La Banquise, fries at Frites Alors, great hamburgers at L'Anecdote, grilled chicken at Romados, Korean at Miga, and that's just on Rachel strolling back from the park! I'm trying to encourage my children to write a foodie blog guide for visitors but they are more interested in Lego at the moment.

                  1. re: Royaljelly

                    If language is an issue, maybe then one option would be NDG, around Monkland. Sure, it's definitely not as much of a foodie destination than the Plateau or Outremont, but you'll still have some nice spots, 3 bakeries within 3-4 blocks, a good selection of cheese and meat and other delicacies at Maitre Boucher, and a grocery store for all other stuff. If you live more to the East (say Oxford to Girouard), then it will be a 4-5 minutes walk to the metro, on the orange line (Villa Maria station), which makes it easy to get around town. Also, there's a very nice park down Old Orchard, great for kids with two playgrounds. In terms of look, it has something of Outremont, with streets lined with old, large trees. And most of all, it is absolutely bilingual, so you could do all your activities in English without any problem.

                    Once again, maybe not as central as the Plateau, but it's an option you may want to consider.

                    1. re: Turpentine

                      Language should not be an issue. At JTM, myriad languages ae spoken, and I can't imagine any anglophone family encountering either problems or negative vibes in the Plateau,Outremont or Villeray/Petite Patrie nowadays.

                      1. re: lagatta

                        I agree. I guess I just meant that some people may feel uncomfortable in an environment where their language is not prominent. That being said, if it's not a problem for you, then you shouldn't factor language into the equation. You'll feel comfortable in any of those 'hoods.

                  2. re: wilmagrace

                    Outemont is the best for kids -great food, lots of parcs near the mountain and a close to DT (take the 80 bus -or you know, a cab!) Bilboquet, cocoa locale, will love it! (i am biased, i grew up there).

                    The restaurant on Van Honre is called Cavaloo and went out of business a few months ago.

                    1. re: Arktik

                      All of these places are easy to get to via public transport, and even walking. Remember the buses - sometimes easier for shortish trips with the kids. The low-floor buses are much easier to access with strollers. The quality and ease of accomodation is also a key factor for a couple with small children. Old Port is easily accessed via public transport.

                      The parks in Outremont are very beautiful, and there are many cafés.

                2. Sherbrooke st. in NDG might be an interesting option for you (take bus 24 West from downtown connect to 105 or to metro Vendome and take bus 105 for 2 or 3 stops), although Vendome metro is not always stroller friendly, there are many people willing to help out. There is a large park (including water park) at Girouard and Sherbrooke, and if you keep walking West along Sherbrooke, there is a large selection of ethnic food including Indian, Japanese, Greek, Korean among others. There are also bakeries, the Green Co-op (with kids play area) and some interesting shops. Monkland village is only a few blocks north of there, if you prefer that, too.

                  1. Oh goodness, certainly the plateau is central, a great mix of places to eat and parc Mont Royal and Jeanne Mance for running the kids. You can walk down to the old port and take the bus or metro back if you get tired. Plenty of family friendly restos, including the Spanish Social Club on St. Laurent and Kyber Pass on Duluth. Also, the much maligned L'Acadamie on Duluth and St. Denis is great for families; quick service, decent food and not too expensive (bring your own wine). All in the Plateau, and plenty more. Enjoy.
                    Oh, and Jardin de Panos on Duluth, also BYOB, is good and has a terrific bargain of a kid's meal. And if you go early you won't need a reservation.

                    1. Thanks everyone for the great input. We are spending time in 2 locations around Duluth/St Laurent and also St Denis/St Gregoire, and we finally got a reservation at Au Pied de Cochon!

                      Just one more question, how are the higher end places like Lemeac, Europea, La Montée or Joe Beef? We try to go there early just like what we did in NYC for Casa Mono, albeit the kids were just barely tolerated by all the cool people around us!

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Royaljelly

                        Lemeac is the only resto of those you mention that I have been to and I've been their twice. Loved it both times, didn't bring the kids either time, BUT, I think it would be fine with children. It's big and bustling and the service is so impeccable that I imagine they would treat you well with kids. I only haven't brought my children because I can't afford dinner for four at the better restaurants; only dinner for 2 and only on special occasion!. But if that's not a concern, I think you'll be fine there with kids.

                        1. re: Royaljelly

                          Royaljelly, I have a lot of good friends with children of various ages, and have had a lot of experience going to restaurants with the kids in tow. How the higher end places deal with the kids depends a bit on how the kids tolerate the high end places. I've been able to go to some very high end places with 2 year olds, on days when the toddler was pretty well behaved. I agree it helps to go early, when it is less busy. The staff are more available to help out, the service is faster, and we were always ready to abort quickly if we felt the toddler was losing patience.

                          In general, a lot of restaurants in Montreal are pretty loud, and a toddler is not going to make much of an impact. Au Pied de Cochon should be just fine, the atmosphere is pretty casual, the kids will be very well tolerated. I think Lemeac might be fine too.

                          I can't comment on Europea or Joe Beef, as I haven't been. La Montee on the other hand is a more sedate atmosphere, and it might be harder to bring the kids there. If the kids are pretty quiet and can sit reasonably well though a meal, I think you could manage. But if one of the kids breaks down, well, it would be very noticeable in La Montee.

                          I think it would be best to call ahead and check, and make sure there are no issues with bringing kids. Maybe call and ask if they have an infant high-chair, and gauge their reaction to your request. If you go early and are ready to bail at any sign of trouble (usually one of the parents takes the child outside, and the rest of us wait for the food to be packed up and pay and leave a nice tip for the staff's understanding), I would think you should be just fine. But to avoid any unwelcome surprises, I would call and discuss it with the staff.

                          1. re: Royaljelly

                            Joe Beef is very small, but noisy - kids would probably be fine there, especially for an early dinner - it fills up later in the evening - but you'd have to let the restaurant know specifically to ensure they had a table to accommodate you. I wouldn't count on finding a high chair there, though. Another option would be their sister restaurant, Liverpool House, next door.

                            A better option than La Montee for kids, IMHO, would be Club Chasse et Peche. It's bigger and darker and noisier. Much as I love La Montee, I don't think I'd feel comfortable taking small children there (and I've taken mine to many high-end restos here and elsewhere over the years).

                            1. re: cherylmtl

                              If you like Indonesian food Nonya is a nice classy place with a terrace where the owner is happy to greet children. Her own are often running around nearby.

                              It can be a shame to rush a fancy meal because the little ones are bored. That can be more disappointing than the vibes of nearby diners. So it is always a good idea to pack a lot of crayons and paper. Most of the places suggested here in this thread should be fine though.

                              1. re: cherylmtl

                                Cherylmtl, that's my take on La Montee too. It's a resto in which I feel the need to talk in hushed tones, and hold in my raucous laughter. Although, give me a bit of wine, and who knows what goes ;)

                                1. re: cherylmtl

                                  I've done Joe Beef a couple of times with kids. No problem at all. They even went out of their way to satisfy the kids. Cudos to Joe Beef for that!